The Hyundai Sonata has been gracing roads all over the world since it was first introduced in the 1980s, but the latest model of this popular car comes with a, well, “key” difference: it can be unlocked by using a smartphone application.

The South Korean automobile manufacturer released the 2020 Sonata at the New York International Auto Show, held from 19 to 28 April at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Using Near Field Communication technology, drivers are able to use their smartphone as a key by means of a dedicated mobile application. The smartphone app allows multiple users to have access to the car for specified amounts of time, albeit only if their phone is within a few centimetres of the vehicle.

The Digital Key feature is currently only available on Android devices, necessitating the release of the car with a traditional set of keys, but the tech magic doesn’t stop there: the app also allows users to remotely manage car systems like starting the engine or activating the panic alarm via Bluetooth. The Digital Key can be remotely revoked at any time, and users and features can be tailored according to the needs of the vehicle owner.

The 2020 will go into production in September this year and should be available at car dealerships in October.

Hyundai is not the first company to venture into merging mobile technology with cars – last year, Huawei introduced the first driverless car that can be controlled with a smartphone. Dubbed the “Roadreader” project, a specially adapted Porsche Panamera was demonstrated at last year’s Mobile World Congress. Using Huawei AI, the car cannot only be driven but is also able to recognise objects in its surroundings. Check out the riveting video below.

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